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  • Championing entrepreneurs, youth, exporters and artists: 902HipHop

Championing entrepreneurs, youth, exporters and artists: 902HipHop

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

When you think of Nova Scotia music, do you think of hip hop?

Probably not.

With the province’s music scene dominated by more traditional styles like folk and Celtic, hip-hop hasn’t received a lot of local attention. That is, until 902HipHop founder, Melissa MacMaster launched her Nova Scotia-based music management and publishing business.

902HipHop offers full-service artist management and music licensing, with a focus on creating opportunities at the national and international level. The company helps maximize the potential of their artists and is a one-stop shop for clearable hip-hop music for TV and film music placements.

While many dream of a career in the music industry, it was never in MacMaster’s plan. It wasn’t until she began working as a business counsellor at the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development (CEED) that she saw a gap and a subsequent opportunity; there were many young, entrepreneurial hip-hop artists with great talent and ambition, but no one to offer guidance on the business side.

“I really didn’t know much about the local hip-hop scene when I first got started and I had no intention of getting into music management, but it all stemmed from my passion for youth entrepreneurship. I was working with all different kinds of entrepreneurs, but I really leaned towards youth, artists and creatives. My experience was in helping start-ups launch, grow, and identify revenue streams, so transitioning into doing this full time for hip-hop artists felt natural.”

Before working in the music business, Melissa was developing other avenues to support youth entrepreneurs. While working at the St. FX University Enterprise Development Centre and organizing an Atlantic Youth Summit, she was selected as a Canadian delegate for a similar summit in Benin, West Africa. “What was really interesting was the number of synergies and com monalities there were between young entrepreneurs in Nova Scotia, and young entrepreneurs globally. We spoke a lot of agriculture, technology, and start-ups, and it was very eye-opening to see how we could all relate to one another.” Soon after, she co-founded the Global Youth Innovation Network, with the purpose of transferring business skills and knowledge among youth. The network’s members stretched across Canada, Europe and Africa, and knocked down barriers to help youth get a unique, global perspective.

Now, with 902HipHop, MacMaster’s sights are on helping her clients have that same global perspective and reach markets like the United States and the United Kingdom - two major export markets for music. “All of my clients are export-ready, whether they’re trying to tour internationally, trying to license their music for TV and film, or work with major brands. Canada is a great market to gain an understanding of the industry, but to really find those big opportunities as a hip-hop artist, exporting internationally is essential. It’s 90% of our business.“

In an industry that’s been completely transformed by online music streaming and an abundance of content, technology presents big challenges for those in the music business. There’s constant change to keep up with and agility is essential. But 902HipHop is taking the challenges presented by technology, and even our time zone, and turning them into opportunities. “Decisions happen quickly in this industry, and we work with a lot of customers in L.A. and London, England, so time zones can be tricky. What we’ve created is an online music catalogue that’s available 24-7, where music can be licensed quickly and easily. It’s a big plus for us and for our customers. Our business all comes back to being strategic, creative, and finding ways to help our clients not become lost in the noise of today’s media.”

"Canada is a great market to gain an understanding of the industry, but to really find those big opportunities as a hip-hop artist, exporting internationally is essential. It’s 90% of our business.“
Melissa MacMaster, Founder, 902HipHop

The company has taken advantage of local support, like Nova Scotia Business Inc.’s Trade Market Intelligence service, the Small Business Development Program, and the Export Growth Program. From getting a better understanding of which export markets to enter, to working with a consultant and learning copyright and licensing laws, to traveling into market, Melissa and her firm credit programs like these as keys to success. “NSBI was the first organization that supported us. The team helped us take it from a vision and helped us find our niche and grow. We’ve carved a lane for ourselves and are doing a lot of exciting things, like getting into the digital gaming sector. We have such a strong local gaming sector, so it’s a great opportunity for us to tap into and license music for that industry as well. I’ve learned so much the past few years and am still learning every day.”

And no, despite that the hip-hop scene is more predominant in larger cities, the company has no plans to head elsewhere. “Since I’m in the music industry, people often ask if I’ll be moving to Toronto. But If I had started there, I would not be as successful as I am today, running it from Halifax. There are opportunities here being a female founder, and there was no one else running an urban music management and publishing company like this. I’ve really been able to find my niche and earn a good reputation in Halifax and in Atlantic Canada. We’re just two years old, but we’ve had such successful partnerships already, and are creating really unique export opportunities for our artists.”

Whether you are new to exporting, expanding to new markets, or looking to grow your export business, NSBI can help.